German police bust crime ring based at Turkish call center

German authorities have broken up an international crime ring that duped elderly people into handing over their money and valuables to criminals posing as police officers, a German newspaper reported Saturday.

In cooperation with Turkish authorities, German police busted a call center in the southwestern Turkish city of Izmir where suspects allegedly phoned retirees in Germany and talked them into handing over their valuables to fake officers, the daily Rheinische Post reported.

The newspaper said 38 people were arrested earlier this month and 48 locations were searched in addition to the call center. Police reported confiscating cash worth 1.7 million euros ($2 million) during the raids, as well as 5 kilograms (11 pounds) of gold and high-end watches, the paper reported. Authorities also seized 41 luxury cars, 87 properties including luxury homes and hotels.

”In this call center, there were members of families that lived in Germany before but were deported because of crimes,” Thomas Jungbluth of the state criminal police in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia told the Rheinische Post. “They resettled in Turkey.”

The suspects allegedly told the people they called that their jewelry or money wasn’t safe at home or at the bank and they would send police to collect and keep it for them at a safe place.

“Since we raided the call center, there have been barely any such calls in Germany anymore,” Wolfgang Herrmanns from the state criminal office told the newspaper. “We’ve drained the swamp.”

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